EU members of Security Council demand halt of offensive in NW Syria

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The four EU members of the UN Security Council -- Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany -- plus Poland, which has just left the council, on Friday asked for an immediate end to the military offensive in northwest Syria for the sake of civilians.

Ongoing military escalation in northwest Syria is creating massive displacements, said a joint statement of the five countries.

"We are deeply alarmed by the ongoing military escalation in northwest Syria that has displaced more than 800,000 people since Dec. 1. This is one of the worst man-made displacements that we have seen anywhere in the world in years. And it has been and continues to be entirely avoidable," read the statement.

"We demand that the parties, especially the Syrian regime and its allies, immediately end their military offensive, establish a genuine and lasting cease-fire, guarantee the protection of civilians, and fully adhere to international humanitarian law."

They also urged all parties to the conflict to allow unimpeded humanitarian access to people in need of assistance, and to respect the rules and obligations of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

They stressed that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict. Sustainable peace, stability, and security in Syria can only be achieved through a political settlement under the auspices of the United Nations, said the statement.

Millions of civilians remain trapped in the area, the vast majority of whom are women and children. They are facing harsh winter conditions without being able to cover basic needs for shelter, water, food, and health care, noted the statement.

The United Nations describes the already dramatic humanitarian situation in Idlib in northwest Syria as the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Attacks continue to include civilian targets in densely populated areas, medical facilities, and settlements for internally displaced people, it said.

Deliberate strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure are outrageous and a blatant violation of international law, not to speak of the basic principles of humanity. Those responsible for these violations must be held accountable, said the statement, noting that more than 1,700 civilians have been killed since April 2019. Enditem

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